Last updated on September 1, 2023
The moment we chose to explore the cities of Split and Zadar two summers ago, we knew that we wanted to venture out to one of the Croatian islands too. We initially had our sights set on Korčula, but as we realised we would be spending more time catching ferries than enjoying the sunshine, we had to reconsider. Our final decision was Brač, which, despite being the largest Dalmatian island, remains less popular with tourists than the nearby islands of Hvar and Korčula. We based ourselves in the charming town of Bol located on the island’s southern coast, which instantly won us over. So, I decided to write down the 5 main reasons why Bol should be on your Croatia itinerary too!
Disclaimer: Before we dive into this Bol travel guide, there’s one thing I need to tell you. When we visited the island in the summer of 2021, the official currency in use was the Croatian kuna. However, things have changed since then, and Croatia has now adopted the euro as its official currency. So, while the tips and recommendations in this guide still hold up, please keep in mind that the prices and exchange rates I mention may no longer be accurate. Now, with that out of the way, let’s get ready to explore Croatia!
How to get from Split to Bol
The route between Split and Brač Island is served by Jadrolinija ferries. The company operates regular ferries from Split to Supetar in the north of the island. Once a day, you can also board a speedboat connecting Split directly with Bol. As we knew we wouldn’t have time to explore the island’s sleepy villages, we chose the first option. This way, we could admire the landscape from inside the bus that took us from Supetar to Bol.
On our way back, we splurged on the speedboat to allow ourselves more time in Split before heading off to Zadar. The regular ferry cost 36.50 HRK (around €4.80/£4.30) per person, while the speedboat was slightly more expensive at 150 HRK (around €19.90/£17.50) each.
Where to stay in Bol
We booked our Apartments Mel studio through Booking.com, paying €128 for two nights. The main selling point was the open kitchen overlooking the sea where we enjoyed our coffee in the morning and wine in the evening. Our host went above and beyond to ensure our stay was as smooth and enjoyable as possible. When we arrived in Bol, he picked us up from the bus station and helped with our luggage. Then, he had a big folder of information prepared and talked us through everything, from how to get to the beach to the best restaurants the town has to offer. When we wanted to buy a few bottles of local olive oil, he arranged everything AND delivered them straight to our door! I couldn’t recommend this place enough to anyone visiting the Bol area – we will definitely be back!
5 main reasons to add Bol to your Croatia itinerary
1. You can visit the famous horn-shaped Zlatni Rat beach
There are two types of people in this world: those who get excited over the prospect of a beach day, and those who get restless after sunbathing for more than 10 minutes. I’m certainly the latter – my idea of holiday fun is ticking off as many museums and Instagrammable locations as possible. Even though I was born and raised in a lakeside town, I somehow never learned to swim, so the idea of doing water sports fills me with dread. When visiting a beach destination, I usually squeeze in a few hours of beach lounging and reward myself with a glass of wine afterwards.
So, the fact that the number one reason on my list is a beach is very telling. Even I wasn’t immune to the charm of Zlatni Rat – a beautiful white pebble beach also known as the Golden Horn due to its distinctive shape. This natural wonder was also recognised by several world-renowned publications, including The New York Times, National Geographic, and US Conde Nast Traveler magazine, as one of the most spectacular beaches in the world. It’s particularly popular among adrenaline seekers, as it offers perfect conditions for various water activities, including windsurfing and kitesurfing.
A fascinating fact about Zlatni Rat is that it changes its position and shape depending on the wind, sea current, and tide. Not only that, but it actually keeps getting longer! While it was 420 meters long back in 2006, it currently stretches half a kilometer into the sea.
If you’d like to avoid the crowds, a great alternative is the Bijela Kuća and Martinica beaches. Just remember to bring water shoes to avoid hurting your feet.
2. You can eat your way around the island
Now, on to one of my favourite travel activities – tasting the local delicacies. Brač Island cuisine is based on healthy and fresh seasonal ingredients – fish, seafood, olive oil, cheese, and, most importantly, lamb. One of the original island specialties is vitalac, a peculiar dish made of spit-roasted lamb offal. If you’re slightly less adventurous, another popular Croatian dish is black risotto made using squid or cuttlefish ink.
Throughout our short stay on the island, we followed our host’s culinary recommendations. On our first evening, we enjoyed a meal at a small family-run tavern named Konoba Dinko. Tucked away from the most touristy areas of Bol, it’s a great place for an intimate dining experience. The tavern is really small, so it’s best to book in advance to ensure that you get a table. To make sure that everything is freshly prepared, you can even watch your food being cooked over an open fire as you enjoy a glass of Prošek.
For our second and last full day in Bol, we wanted to treat ourselves to a romantic dinner with a sea view. We chose Ribarska Kućica, a restaurant where you can sit directly on the beach and enjoy your food in a quiet setting. We were very lucky to find a table without a reservation – even if it meant we did not get the best views.
As expected, it’s a slightly pricier experience. While we found their fish soup disappointing, as we thought it would be more hearty, the black risotto and truffle pasta were worth the splurge. I have it on good authority, though, that the owner has since changed and the overall quality has dropped. So, if you’re looking to dine close to the water, you might want to look into Restaurant Pumparela instead.
3. The island of Brač is home to local wineries
It may surprise you to learn that despite its unique stony soil, Brač Island has longstanding winemaking traditions. Dalmatia’s first wine cooperative was established in Bol back in 1903. At that time, the island was home to many internationally recognised winemakers. Their exports reached as far as France while the famous winemaking country battled vine-destroying pests. Unfortunately, the plague eventually reached Brač too, decimating its wine production.
It wasn’t until 2009 that the historic winery building was renovated into a modern wine cellar and new vineyards were planted. The island’s steep landscape means that all cultivation work must be done strictly manually, which ensures that the grapes are of premium quality. Today, Stina Winery’s doors are open to tourists and you can book a wine tasting to sample different varieties. Unfortunately, we arrived slightly too late to book one, so we enjoyed a glass of wine overlooking the sea instead. I drink sparkling wines almost exclusively these days, and I would go as far as to say their Godiment wine was one of the best I’ve ever had!
The most famous Dalmatian specialty is Prošek – a sweet dessert wine, not to be mistaken with Prosecco. The complex process of making Prošek involves drying wine grapes. It therefore requires 7 times more grapes in comparison with traditional methods, meaning the wine itself is more expensive too. I accidentally ordered it on the first day, thinking it was the Croatian translation for Prosecco. While it was too heavy for my liking, it ended up being Mac’s favourite.
4. You can hit the hiking trails
Another perk of the island’s rocky landscape is that you can hit several hiking trails with majestic views along the way. The most popular hiking trail from Bol leads to the island’s highest peak, Vidova Gora. It rises 778 meters above sea level, providing unobscured views over the Croatian coastline. The trail itself is 5 km long and requires a moderate level of fitness. If you’re short on time or simply don’t feel up to the hike, there’s also an option to drive to the top. We were going to brave the trail on our last morning in Bol, but the prospect of ending our holiday with a chilled day ultimately won us over.
5. You can try your hand at sculpting
Did you know that the island’s biggest treasure is actually… the stone? Yes, you read that right! Brač stone is no ordinary rock. Since ancient times, many majestic architectural monuments have been constructed using white limestone from Brač quarries. Perhaps the most prominent example is Diocletian’s Palace in the nearby city of Split. There’s also a common belief that parts of Croatian limestone were used to build the White House, although there is no actual evidence to support this claim. Many credible sources refuted this myth, saying that the stone came from a quarry just outside of Washington, DC.
Even so, Croatian limestone doesn’t need this kind of promotion, as its beauty speaks for itself. You can pick up a Brač stone souvenir from any of the kiosks along the beach promenade. Or, you can see the stone masters in action! The Sculpting Academy in Pučišća, around 20 km away from Bol, keeps the centuries-old tradition of stonemasonry alive. You can tour the workshop where apprentices of different nationalities train in the art of stone carving. Interestingly enough, the stone masters from Pučišća even offered to help restore the Notre Dame Cathedral after the devastating fire.
Have you ever visited any Croatian islands? Are you the type of person who enjoys beach holidays or do you get restless like me?